Life Stages: Growing from an Individual to a Family

Life Stages: Growing from an Individual to a Family

Taking a family outing compared to trip by yourself might  be comparable to the difference between spiritual growth as an individual and as a family.

A trip where you’re responsible for only yourself is easier to prepare and plan for, just as focusing on your own growth and development is less complicated than having to consider the needs of all the members of the family.

Even just preparing to head out for any activity is immensely complicated with your family in tow. If you have multiple kids, questions that might run through your mind might include:

“How many changes of kids’ clothes will I need?”

“Should the kids bring their own bags or no?”

“Vests or jackets?”

“Is he old enough that he won’t need an extra pair of underwear?”

“Will this snack be enough to keep them quiet on the ride over?”

“Three diapers or four?”

“Should I bring a carrier or a stroller or both?”

“Will the stroller fit in a coin locker if I don’t need it?”

“Will she sit in the stroller?”

“Throw up bags?”

“Stickers? Crayons?”

…along with a million other considerations.

Whereas heading out the door by yourself might be more along the lines of:

“Phone? Wallet? Keys?”

From Dependence to Independence

Despite these and many other complications, there is something to be said about the messiness and discomfort of having to think about more than one’s self. And perhaps this speaks to God’s design.

We all start out as babies, completely dependent on those around us. Our choices are, at first, not our own as our parents make them for us and may or may not give us varying levels of independence as we grow. But no matter how we are raised, we eventually go through a process through which we must become independent, autonomous adults.

Just as our bodies need to go through a period of maturation and growth in order to create human life, our spirits need to do the same. Much of this process of maturation can happen on the individual level but, at a certain point, our spiritual growth and development hinges on our ability to go on to a higher and deeper levels wherein we need to begin to consider ourselves as part of a bigger whole.

Becoming Part of a Bigger Whole

When we become part of a couple, we then come to reflect God’s divine image in the sacred union of a man and woman. As a couple, we need to consider the needs and desires of the other person. As parents, we need to consider the growth, education and development of our children, one another and the family as a whole. Later, as adult children, we begin to need to consider the needs of our elderly parents.

It is in the critical period of youth where we begin to make all the choices and habits that then sets the trajectory for our whole lives. This is the period where we are no longer tied to our mother’s “apron strings” and begin to make the decisions that will determine who we will become in life. It is at this juncture that, if we’re able to have a clear purpose and direction, we can make the choices that allow us to fulfill our God-given potential, to have fulfilling and meaningful relationships at home and at work.

Preparing for the Next Stage

All this starts from knowing both where we come from and where we want to go!

If — even in the period of our flourishing independence — we clearly know our identity as sons and daughters of God and His purpose for us, it makes it so much easier. Put simply, it cuts away the confusion and fumbling that is often associated with adolescence. Instead of searching for meaning and purpose, we can direct our energies into positive pursuits towards fulfilling our God-given potential. We can then also focus on how and in what ways we would enter back into a web of interdependence, in preparation for building our own families in the future.

Knowing and understanding the importance of these natural life stages as being part of God’s grand plan for our personal, spiritual growth and development is essential to guide us towards good choices and habits in our lives. And how lovely is it that the process of our growth is in one that can also bring us so much satisfaction and delight?

So, whatever stage you might be in – how are you growing? What would you like to work on?

Education for Life Begins in the Family

Education for Life Begins in the Family

Why is Education Important?

Even while we take it as a given that we want an education for ourselves and for our families, it sometimes becomes lost in the fog of unknowing why education is so important.

Why is this important? Why do we need to know why we want to educate ourselves and our kids and those around us?

It is because answering this question may radically alter how and what we would do to educate.

So, ask yourselves, why – as parents, as children, as grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. — would we want anyone to have an education?

The first temptation might be to answer simply: so we can have a job/work. Yet, statistics show that now not only jobs but careers themselves might change over 5 to 7 times throughout one’s lifetime. But clearly as the economy changes, this is also set to change. A recent interview with a LinkedIn executive commented that individuals may change his or her job over 15 times in a lifetime.

So, ask yourselves, why – as parents, as children, as grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. — would we want anyone to have an education?

So what kind of education would need for ourselves and our families if we focused on training them in skill sets and knowledge for a job that would, most probably, change multiple times in a lifetime?

Beyond Jobs

Moreover, as economies have begun to move towards automation, technology and communications develop at a mind-numbingly rapid pace, will we even be able to anticipate the skills that would be needed for the jobs of the future? Certainly, twenty years ago, almost nobody would have seen the need to train students how to write code or to even imagine a world where one could make money on video “unboxing” the latest consumer products. But one thing is clear: tomorrow’s needs will not be today’s and educating people with today’s skills will not be enough to prepare us for tomorrow.

In fact, with the rise of the Internet and communication technologies, knowledge is no longer hard to obtain. It is literally at our fingertips and so the ways and importance of rote memorization and may have their place, but it becomes more important to know what to emphasize and to teach how to think rather than to memorize facts and figures. Put another way, we need to acquire the critical thinking skills that allow us to digest and interpret information rather than to spout information.

Yet, the lesson here is less about what kind of education we need to get work in the future but more meaningfully, what is the purpose of education itself?

Education for Life

We would propose that education for jobs and even for what we might term a “career” misses the real point of education. This is because human education should be education for life and not a vocational or intellectual pursuit.

In this case, how much of what we teach now – in our homes, our schools, faith and local communities and society-at-large – align with what we think would fit into this framework of an education for life?

in terms of education at the level of a family, how are we educating ourselves and each other?

Thinkers such as Joseph Chilton Pearce and educators such as Maria Montessori and the Waldorf School and others have proponents of this view for a long time and have developed school curriculums to nurture the whole person. Yet, in terms of education at the level of a family, how are we educating ourselves and each other?

We have framed this educational series “Education Starts at Home” as a way to explore different questions related to “education for life” beyond a cognition-based education and perhaps towards an “education of the whole self” through an “education for the whole family.” That is, we wish to explore what it means to educate ourselves and our families to be more than workers but to be ethical, engaged and productive members of our families, communities and societies in ways that go way beyond the confined and confining limits of educating for jobs.

A Life-Long Pursuit

It is along this line of thought where we also introduce the concept for education as not only for the young but perhaps that while the young may have the most to learn, adults probably have the most to gain in realizing that education is a lifelong pursuit, done best perhaps alongside our families. To point, even while morals and life lessons are built into many of the best-loved and oldest children’s tales, it is most likely that the parents that retell or read these stories to their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. are the ones who most fully understand the secret treasures buried inside them.

It is also instructive to know that most people, facing the end of their lives lamented most about what we could interpret to mean 1) not fulfilling their potential or dreams and 2) not having the kinds of families or relationships that they wished to have. We take from these bitter realizations the lesson and the hope to find ways to help families avoid these end-of-life regrets by helping build strong, healthy families that help each family member to fulfill their highest potential.

While there will inevitably be challenges and obstacles in this kind of endeavor along the way, we find it most satisfying to think that, as the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, noted “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way is the way.” [emphasis added]

Getting to know you game for the family

Getting to know you game for the family

It’s surprising that, given all the amount of time we spend together, a lot of times families don’t know how to communicate with each other. And in many ways, they may not even know what the other members value, like, or want.

Here is a simple activity can be played with any kind of group but we think it’s a great way to get to know more about each other.

Materials: one bag of M&Ms, skittles or other colored candies, a small box (tissue box is fine) with a small opening, workbook and writing instrument.

Directions:

  • Assign a task or question to each color. E.g., blue = what is your favorite book?; red = tell a favorite memory you have; yellow = name something you would like to try to do/go; brown = do something silly, etc. Have fun brainstorming different questions or tasks. Write it down so you don’t forget which color is which! You can change this every time you play this game. It is recommended that the parents might want to discuss beforehand different questions that might help them to better understand their children, relatives, etc.
  • Each person takes a turn picking a candy out of the box and share according to the color chart decided in the beginning.
  • Go two or three rounds.
  • Wrap up by discussing ways in which some of the responses surprised us. See if there are ways where we can plan a fun activity around someone’s favorite food/thing/memory, etc.

Different sample questions are as follows:

  1. What is something you always wanted to do?
  2. What one superpower would you want to have?
  3. What’s your favorite way to relax?
  4. What was your most memorable trip?
  5. What’s something that you worry about?
  6. Show the group a special talent/skill others might not know about.
  7. If you could meet anyone in the word – real, dead or alive – who would it be?

Post in the comments how the activity went. We’d love to hear from you.

Setting the Standard of Tradition: CVL Talks Parenthood

Setting the Standard of Tradition: CVL Talks Parenthood

“It’s never too early to think about what kind of parents you want to become.”

Core Values for Life holds bi-weekly video conference calls for college and young professionals to explore topics on the qualities essential to raising a healthy God-centered family. In the most recent call held on April 1, CVL participants posed the question, “What kind of parents do you want to become?”

Being a parent also means being a leader. Parents set the tradition and culture for their children and family, showing how important it really is to think about what kind of lifestyle you want to demonstrate for your kids. “When you’re thinking about becoming a parent, you often think about what not to do as a parent,” shared one young mother, “But as you become a parent, you realize you’ve inherited habits from your parents. It really is an uphill battle to change things.”

Everyone on the call agreed that education for family life starts young, even from birth. The process of growing oneself is continuous. “Kids eventually realize that their parents aren’t perfect,” said a young father, “Therefore, I agree, I’d rather be a father that constantly strives to continue growing. I’m also trying to get my kids excited when they make a lot of effort. Trying hard is more important than being lucky or just being talented.”

One young man still looking forward to married life expressed the gratitude he felt to his own parents, “My father made me feel responsible for my life of faith. He didn’t cram anything down my throat. He somehow stimulated my own sense of responsibility. That’s something I appreciate and would like to inherit from him; the ability to give space and the appropriate time to develop.”

This energizing video call on parenthood brought together young people from all stages of family life. The diverse participating audience ranged from single to engaged, married, expecting and already-parents of young children.

Family Peace Association believes marriage is a blessing from God that grants couples the gift of co-creation with God as they build God-centered families by bringing new life into this world. Learn more about FPA’s education and programs on Marriage and Family.